Friday, August 6, 2004

CPR rescue saves tennis player

?It was a group effort?


By MATT FURBER
Express Staff Writer

Ketchum paramedics, left to right, Tom McLean, John Rathfon, Lara Babalis and Mike Elle surround heart attack survivor Roger O?Connell, center, who stopped by the Greenhorn Fire Station Thursday to say hello after a successful heart surgery last week. Rathfon is carrying a defi-brillator that is rapidly becoming standard equipment in rescue vehicles and in many public facilities like schools and airports. Photo by David N. Seelig

Just months after being saved from choking by his son with the Heimlich maneuver, Brad DuFur was able to return a lifesaving favor last week.

When Roger O?Connell succumbed to a heart attack at a Zenergy At Thunder Springs tennis clinic, DuFur, Tennis Di-rector Robert Kolb and Veterinarian Kar-sten Fostvedt jumped to his aid performing CPR until help arrived.

O?Connell, who had quadruple by-pass surgery last week, is recovering quickly, said his wife Sharon O?Connell.

?Roger is doing great,? she said.

DuFur was saved last March by his 8-year-old son Doug, who gave him a modi-fied Heimlich ?punch? after his father choked on an ice cream cone at a mall in Boise. Doug had learned the procedure from his mother, who had also talked to her children about when to call 911.

?The strangest thing is that this all comes from a conversation at the dinner table,? DuFur said.

?Someone called 911 immediately,? DuFur, who had recently completed a CPR course through the College of Southern Idaho at the Community Campus in Hailey said.

Kolb said the incident occurred at the Ketchum club while a group of 12 people were participating in a special tennis clinic featuring Seattle tennis pro Tom Gorman.

Gorman and O?Connell had gone to the same high school and O?Connell was excited about the opportunity to take a clinic with him, said Kolb, who stepped in to give O?Connell mouth to mouth resus-citation.

?We were taking a break to review a lesson,? Kolb said. ?Tom was talking about serves and the serve toss and Roger pretty much collapsed ... I thought he was having a seizure at first. There is this shock and convulsion ? Brad jumped on him and found that his heart had stopped.?

?Roger was not breathing it was clear. He was blue in the face,? DuFur said.

?Evidently he collapsed and had a coronary arrest on the tennis court,? said Sharon O?Connell.

DuFur then began giving chest com-pressions, 15 for every two breaths.

?I don?t know how long we gave CPR, maybe five minutes. I went for as long as I could, then Karsten took over for a couple of minutes,? Kolb said. ?Boy, it was so scary, that poor guy. I was not sure if he was going to make it or not.?

Kolb said the fear that O?Connell might die subsided after Ketchum para-medics showed up.

?It bred some confidence for me. They weren?t scared at all they were just doing their job,? he said. ?It was hard to keep the airway clear. We were doing CPR through vomit. It was hard to jump in there.?

Kolb and Dufur have both been to Boise to visit the O?Connell family and check in on Roger?s condition.

?It?s been an upward spiral,? Kolb said. ?It?s a pretty neat thing that CPR worked.?

?Without that he would not be alive,? Sharon O?Connell said Thursday morning.

DuFur said that while performing CPR O?Connell recovered twice and his heart began to beat on its own but then he re-lapsed.

?It was great to see CPR working while you?re doing it,? DuFur said. ?(Re-susci-Annie) stays pale all the time. We saw his color improve.?

Paramedics from the Ketchum Fire Department responded to the 911 call and took over O?Connell?s care. He was trans-ported to St. Luke?s Regional Medical Center in Ketchum where he was flown by helicopter to St. Luke?s in Boise.

?The paramedics were right on it,? DuFur said. ?They were competent and professional. The medication they can use got him in a much better state so he could be transported.?

DuFur credits his CPR instructor Tom McLean, of the Ketchum Fire Department, for honing his CPR skills.

The Seattle couple plans to return to Sun Valley after the quadruple bypass surgery so O?Connell can be close to the people who treated him.

?The people here in Boise and there in Sun Valley have just been wonderful,? Sharon O?Connell said. ?We had excellent care there and in Boise. We want to share how much we appreciate the outpouring of support.?

Monday, O?Connell stopped by the athletic club to say hello and thanks.

More information about CPR courses is available through any clinics or fire stations in the Wood River Valley.




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